2005 National Youth Championships - Contest preview


4BR looks ahead to what promises to be a great Sunday of brass band playing at the Royal Northern College of Music.

Thirty five bands will do battle this Sunday across five sections in what promises to be a fantastic day out for brass band lovers in Manchester.  As with any banding competition, there are some fine bands on show, and every chance that an upset or two will happen on the day.

These championships are a little different in their own way however.  Bands are required to play a set work and an own choice programme in four of the sections, and the decisions will be made by some of our leading adjudicators a youth banding equivalent of the European Championships maybe?

Unlike the European though which can be something of a hard school of knocks for some competitors, it's all about encouragement here, and no band goes home empty handed.  Bands are awarded certificates of Gold, Silver and Bronze within their section, whilst the winners will take 350 and the Best Instrumentalist in each category will take 100. 

The overall prize fund is around 4000, courtesy of Besson Musical Instruments, and the British Federation of Brass Bands have also offered individual bursaries, trophies and medals. The Worshipful Company of Musicians, with an eye on the next generation have also donated trophies for the winning bands.

A few bands that competed last year don't make the journey to Manchester this year.  Hampshire County Youth, Newport Music Centre and West Glamorgan Youth are all absent, but some of the best Youth bands in the country will be present looking to take the honours.

The popularity of the RNCM means that the contest has to be held on a Sunday this year, and be warned, it's an early start, with Valley Youth commencing the day's music at 8.50am. 

Gary Walczak and his huge team of helpers including Lancashire Contests Ltd, run an efficient and tight ship here with plenty of help and encouragement to all concerned and with the last band due on stage at 7.00pm, the final results should be known an hour later.

It will cost you 6 (4 for concessions) to listen to what promises to be a fabulous day of entertainment, and that's something these bands do extremely well.

4BR will be present on the day soaking up the atmosphere of the event and will be bringing you our post contests views.

Premier Section
Bruntwood Theatre
Start: 1.30pm
Test Piece: Lyonesse Simon Dobson and own choice programme
Adjudicators: Major Peter Parkes and Phillip McCann

Northamptonshire Youth
Rochdale Borough Youth
St Helens Youth Gold Award last year
West Lothian Schools Gold Award last year

There only be four bands in this section, but this is certainly the most anticipated contest of the whole day and promises to be a real dogfight, as the standard of playing is nothing short of excellent, with a number of real star performers on show with each of the bands. This is high class playing indeed, and the adjudicators, Major Peter Parkes and Philip McCann will have a difficult but enjoyable task of sorting out the bands.

Mr McCann in particular is a very fine adjudicator impeccably prepared and someone who gives a great deal of time and thought about his remarks. It will be interesting to hear what he has to say.

4BR Prediction:

2004 was a close fight between West Lothian and St Helens Youth, with the Scots being crowned the winners.  It could be a similar result this time, but Rochdale Youth will be full of confidence having taken the Action Medical Research Entertainment Youth Championships in Blackpool in February.  Northamptonshire are the final band in this section and will be intent on causing a shock

1st: West Lothian
2nd: St Helens Youth
3rd : Rochdale Borough Youth

Community Section
Haden Freeman Concert Hall
Start: 11.30am
Test Piece: Patterns Edward Gregson and own choice programme
Adjudicators: John Berryman & Derek Southcott

Chalford Youth
Enderby Youth
Horbury Victoria Youth
Houghton Youth
Lions Youth
Mount Charles Youth
Northop Youth -
Poynton Youth
Sellers International
South East Cheshire
Tewit Youth
Townley Youth
Youth Brass 2000

The largest section of the day promises to be a cracking contest.  Smithills Brass took this section last year and the Bolton-based outfit compete in the School Section this year.

Last Years runners up, JAG Mount Charles will be looking to go one better than last year by taking the title back to Cornwall and they should be one of the favourites to do so, with a cracking young band.  They will be pushed hard though by Lions Youth who have had the benefit of Nicholas Childs' tuition recently and Tewit and Youth Brass 2000 should be up around there come results time as both are impeccably directed and have an almost inexhaustible supply line of talented players to call upon.

Sellers International are starting to make a mark as well, and Mark Bousie and his young team could well be a bit of a dark horse here. 

4BR Prediction:

1st: Mount Charles
2nd: Lions Youth
3rd:  Youth Brass 2000

County  Section
Bruntwood Theatre
Start: 4.30pm
Test Piece: Three Movements of Jubliee Music Elgar Howarth and own choice programme
Adjudicators: Colin Hardy and Alan Morrison

Birmingham Schools
Bolton Youth
Kirklees Youth
Milton Keynes Inter
Oldham Music Centre
Stockport Schools Senior

Only six bands in what will be the final section of the day with last year's winners, West Glamorgan Youth not competing.  We'd expect the local bands of Bolton Youth, Oldham Music and Stockport Schools to scrap it out amongst themselves for the top three, but the others should provide the adjudicators, Colin Hardy and Alan Morrison with plenty to ponder.

The own choice programmes should be something to savour here, as the bands tend to produce real little crackers to showcase their strengths, although the set work is a craft choice by the organisers as it is a real test of musicianship for young players. 

4BR Prediction:

1st: Oldham Music Centre
2nd: Stockport Schools
3rd:  Bolton Youth

School  Section
Haden Freeman Concert Hall
Start: 9.30am
Test Piece: Music for Greenwich, Edward Gregson and own choice programme
Adjudicators: Colin Hardy and David Horsfield

Abraham Darby
Smithills School
Wardle High

Only three bands contesting here, but what a trio it is.  Abraham Darby, Smithills and Wardle all know each other very well, and it promises to be a real cracker of a contest on Sunday morning.  The standard of playing produced by all three bands over the past couple of years both here and at other contests has been nothing short of wonderful, and we think the judges, Colin Hardy and David Horsfield, as well as what promises to be a very large audience, are in for a treat.

Chris Wormald knows how to win here having been crowned victors in the Community Championships last year, and it wouldn't be a massive surprise for the Bolton band to be crowned champions, but Abraham Darby are a very competitive outfit and Wardle High know more than most of what it takes to win. A great contest is on the horizon then!

4BR Prediction:

1st: Smithills School
2nd: Wardle High
3rd: Abraham Darby

Junior  Section
Bruntwood Theatre
Test Piece: Own Choice Programme that must include an original work for brass band
Adjudicators: Malcolm Brownbill and Garry Cutt

Astley Youth
Cambourne Youth
Chorley Youth
Cwmtawe District
Dobcross Youth
Fred Longworth
Stockport Schools Intermediate
Valley Youth
Wardle High Intermediate

The opening contest of the day features nine bands aiming to impress the knowledgeable Malcolm Brownbill and Garry Cutt with an own choice programme that must include an original work for brass band.

It promises to be an intriguing contest with three high school bands (Fred Longworth, Stockport Schools and Wardle) going head-to-head with youth divisions from Senior bands.

Four bands stand out for us here and we'd expect them to battle it out for the honours.  Those four, Camborne, Valley Youth Haydock and Dobcross finished as the top three last year and the order might not be that different this time around. 

Don't rule out Wardle High though who are an experienced and capable outfit, and they gained a Gold Certificate last year for their efforts.

4BR Prediction:

1st: Camborne
2nd: Dobcross Youth
3rd: Valley Brass Haydock


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